A tribute to and a lament for Marshall McLuhan.Â Five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday,Â I present one of McLuhanâ€™s observations and talk about its relevance today.Â 300 ideas. 300 days.Â 300 posts.
Marshall McLuhan (January, 1996, age 84). Â Unbelievable!
For the most part death agrees with me.Â Iâ€™ve got a quiet room, and plenty of books.Â Every now and then I look up from my studies and look down on earth to find out what people are saying about me.Â Itâ€™s delightful to see that even now 16 years after my death â€“ or as Corinne likes to call it my â€śunfortunate demiseâ€ť – Iâ€™m still a celebrity. Â The latest news on the Marshall McLuhan front is that Wired magazine has put me on their masthead as their patron Saint.Â An excellent choice, if I do say so myself, and I do.Â But I donâ€™t like what that bloke Gary Wolf wrote about me.Â Said someone else had written my books.Â The nerve of the man, ordinarily Iâ€™d sue, but unfortunately given my present circumstances, thatâ€™s impossible.Â No lawyers up here.
Me (February 2010, age 57).Â Wolfe may have been right on the mark.
What Wolfe wrote is that â€śscholars agree that Marshall McLuhanâ€™s earliest books were written by him, but there is mystery and uncertainty about who really wrote his subsequent works.â€ťÂ What there is no â€śmystery and uncertaintyâ€ť about is that all but one of McLuhanâ€™s books published after Understanding Media were co-authored.Â The question is how much did McLuhan actually contribute to the writing of these books and how much did his co-authors.Â It is generally agreed, for example, that The Medium is the Massage was pieced together by his co-authors from McLuhanâ€™s previous writing.Â My own belief is that the McLuhan who wrote the Gutenberg Galaxy and Understanding Media is not the same McLuhan who co-authored the later books.Â I have written a long essay explaining more precisely what I mean by this, which I will publish serially in this blog, beginning next week.
Was the McLuhan who wrote The Gutenberg Galaxy and Understanding Media a genius?Â How do you define genius?
Cordially, Marshall and Me
Reading for this post
Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore. The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects. Produced by Jerome Agel, 1967.